Carrying out the role of director, writer and leading actor, Irina Varina’s Us, Forever Ago is a film underscoring multiple artists, created by a probing artist, and rooted in fluctuating perception. Varina immediately hurls the viewer into a state of blistering uncertainty, as the year 2030 is plastered on-screen, accompanied by a voice-over from Varina discussing the very film we’re about to witness is her recollection of her own artistic career from the year 2030. Varina heavily mentions the film she made in 2015, where she played a young woman making a documentary about female artists. “Yeah, that’s what they called them back then,” Varina teases as a self-portrait photo album unfolds on screen, showing us Varina through the various stages of her life. But don’t let that convince you this is a fully-fledged doc that chronicles Varina’s life, it’s merely a snippet of it — or, better yet, a slight image of Varina that may or may not be fictitious.
“…we’re about to witness is her recollection of her own artistic career from the year 2030.”
Within the first five minutes, it becomes apparent that Varina is playing herself as a marginally fictionalized character, which proves to be a captivating narrative device that keeps you guessing what dialogue can be trusted and what is concocted for dramatic purposes. The majority of the picture revolves around these personal interviews with female artists. Varina, the chief interviewer, is never seen in these interlocutions; instead, she lets the interviewee contemplate their own practices and motivations as an enterprising artist. Performance artist Andrea Clinton talks about her work as a mime. Dancer Emily Mcloughlin refrains from the life of financial stability because dancing provides her shelter and reliability money can’t buy. Playwright Chana Porter believes art should radiate new possibilities and challenge notions. Katie Frank borrows from her own experiences to communicate drawings that illuminate an intimate stroke.